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Trends With Benefits

Apr 22, 2016

On this episode we discuss TechfestNW with founder Mark Zusman, the unfortunate passing of Prince and his history in streaming music, the merging of AR and VR, "Smart Skin" for robots, Comcast changes their game & Stephen Hawking's nano-probes.

We start the show off with an acknowledgment of the unfortunate passing of Prince. He was an artistic genius, whose music and creativity was influential in so many facets of our lives. He was also instrumental in standing up to record labels and Caleb let's us know about the real meaning behind “the symbol”. RIP Prince.

TechfestNW is starting on Monday, April 25th in Digital Trends' hometown of Portland, Oregon and we are joined by the festival founder, Mark Zusman. The festival is a way to honor and celebrate the Start-Up community in Portland and beyond. From speakers, such as Digital Trends' CEO Ian Bell and CTO Dan Gaul, to a group from Paul Allen's company Vulcan, to a guy who creates Fitbits for Elephants, it's got it all. One of the great side events is called PitchfestNW. Entrepreneurs engage in essentially a live Shark Tank-like event, pitching venture capitalists in front of everyone! Tickets are still available for the event, as of now.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality, have always been positioned as very different from each other. One accentuates the world around you and the other takes you out of it. However, there is a company called Curiscope that doesn't feel this way. They recently closed a Kickstarter campaign for a product called “Virtuali-Tee”. It's a shirt designed to work with an app that the company claims “blurs” the line between AR and VR, claiming they are one and the same. This is a controversial opinion, but the product itself could be revolutionary when it comes to education. Let us know your thoughts below.

AI has been a big topic this year, along with the development of Boston Dynamic-style robots. Now a Chinese team may have come up with a form of synthetic skin that could allow for a human-like sensitivity to touch. Using a ground-breaking turboelectric effect, the skin is so sensitive that, according to the team, it can register the pressure of a bumble bee landing on it. Other applications for it, could be in the field of artificial limbs. However, is it a good thing to give our potential robot overlords the ability to feel?

Comcast is not really known as a benevolent corporation, set on lowering costs for customers. That may be changing however, with the announcement that they are bringing their Xfinity App to Samsung TVs and Roku devices. This could mean eliminating the set-top box altogether, for which Comcast charges a substantial rental fee to it's cable customers. We're pretty sure that they haven't decided to just give up revenue, so where will they make up for the shortcoming?

Finally, Stephen Hawking, Mark Zuckerberg and a Russian billionaire announced a very exciting development in space explorations. Their plan is to send thousands of nano-bots through space, powered by lasers. If the plan is successful, the probes could reach Alpha Centauri (over 4 light years away), within 20 years! The tech behind it is incredibly simple and amazing at the same time.

Today's episode features Mark Zusman, Caleb Denison, Nick Mokey and Greg Nibler.

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